Staying On Track: LaAmistad Afterschool Volunteers and Staff Continue to Support Students Online
LaAmistad staff tutoring an Afterschool student via video call
It's taken many things, this virus. For LaAmistad, an organization predicated on the value of meaningful interactions and positive interpersonal relationships, the adjustment has had its challenges. Afterschool has had to be particularly creative, as it strives to fulfill the educational needs of Atlanta's free-and-reduced lunch Latino students.

Typically, our students ride the same school bus that would ordinarily bring them home to one of our 11 afterschool tutoring partner locations. Once there, students work with volunteers on their homework assignments, reinforcement of concepts, and daily reading. Our students thrive in this model and have since our founding nearly two decades ago. However, with in-person instruction suspended, our partner churches closed, and our amazing team of volunteer tutors sidelined, leadership and staff have had to come up with a new way to serve LaAmistad students, and ensure that they and their families have all the resources they need to continue their academic growth. 

At Peachtree Church, one of two LaAmistad Afterschool locations that meet four days per week, staff wasted no time contacting parents and gauging their interest in online afterschool instruction for their students. Responses made it clear that this was an initiative that LaAmistad would need to pull together. When volunteers heard that they could still help students despite being stuck at home, several jumped at the chance. Slowly but surely, LaAmistad's community was coming back together. Thanks to our longstanding relationships with our partner schools, collaboration has come naturally. Easing the transition significantly. 

“They have been so supportive,” beamed Site Director, Vera Woods, “Atlanta Classical Academy and Sarah Smith Elementary send us weekly and daily assignments that we are then able to use to support our students. A very big shoutout to Dr. John Blackwell and Principal Emily Boatright for supporting us in our efforts to support our students. Mr. Watts, Ms. Flynn, and the entire ACA team have been phenomenal as they are working with us hand in hand.” 

At LaAmistad's other four-day-per-week Afterschool Location, Centro Católico in Sandy Springs, students are each receiving a half-hour of individual online assistance with Site Director, Linda Spitzer. 

“The time is spent either for remediation or enrichment, based on the needs of the student,” Spitzer explained, “some students practice reading with me, some work on the remaining vocabulary words yet to be marked off from their agendas, some students ask homework questions, and some students have been given added projects. For example, some students have researched “The Diary of Anne Frank” and have started their own diaries writing daily entries. I promised those students a trip to the Anne Frank Museum once social distancing was over.”

Like so many of us, LaAmistad Afterschool looks forward to the day it can resume normal operations. But in the meantime, our community of educators and volunteers is doing its part to help keep students on track and moving forward. 

“Parents are extremely grateful, and the students love the attention,” said Spitzer, “their smiles are an added bonus for me.”

It's taken many things, this virus. Thankfully, the dedication, selflessness, and ingenuity of our community refuse to go without a fight.
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